The drenching rains and howling winds were gone but flooding concerns persisted Wednesday, as anxious residents waited for waters to recede so they could see what was left after this week's fierce storm.
The storm, which killed at least seven people, battered the Pacific Northwest before moving on Tuesday, leaving behind flooded homes, fallen trees and washed-out roads, including the region's largest highway.
Some were spending Wednesday looking for the lost. In the Lewis County town of Winlock (That's us!!), a dive team planned to search normally tiny Wallers Creek for Richard Hiatt, 81, believed to have been swept away when a bank gave outfrom underneath him.
"It happened so quickly," daughter-in-law Sharon Hiatt said Tuesday as searches continued. "That's the only possibility, that he fell into the creek.". . .
. . . National Guard troops were summoned early Wednesday morning to help evacuate a 20-unit trailer park near Elma threatened by the flooding Chehalis River, Kelly said.. . .
. . . As the water started to rise outside their Lewis County home, Terry Roberts moved his cars to higher ground, shepherded his wife and two children into their RV and hit the road.
They didn't get far.
"We were on dry road and all of a sudden, the water started swirling around," Roberts said, standing with his wife in a temporary shelter in Chehalis after being rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter. "That's when we got on the CB and called for help."
Roberts, 64, was among the hundreds who fled their homes after the storm.
Gov. Chris Gregoire, who toured the ravaged region by helicopter Tuesday, touched down at a high school shelter in Chehalis and offered encouragement to the roughly 40 people staying there.
She also ordered a plane to deliver food and emergency supplies to the high school in Pe Ell, about 25 miles to the west, because the roads were blocked by water.
"It's hard to comprehend 5- to 10-feet under until you see those houses," Gregoire said.
The governor also flew to the water's edge on Interstate 5, which has been shut down since Monday at Centralia because of flooding. At one point Tuesday, officials said a three-mile section of the road was under as much as 10 feet of water from the surging Chehalis River.
The interstate, which is the main north-south route between Portland, Ore., and Seattle, was expected to be closed at least through Thursday.. . .. . . With I-5 closed, state officials were recommending a lengthy detour -- Interstate 90 across the Cascade mountains and down U.S. 97 through central Washington to the Oregon border -- a route that roughly doubles the three-hour trip from Seattle to Portland.
David Dye, Washington state's deputy transportation secretary, said workers were cleaning up lots of debris -- "garbage, tires, dead rats everywhere" -- while they waited for the water to recede.
On the edge of downtown Centralia, waist-high water the color of chocolate milk covered streets as police used small boats to get to houses in flooded neighborhoods.
More than 300 people had to be rescued in Lewis County, many being plucked off their rooftops by helicopter, Sheriff Steve Mansfield said.
Chehalis City Manager Merlin MacReynold said between 70 and 80 people had to be rescued in the city limits alone. He called the flooding worse than the 1996 deluge, which is still legendary in the area.
Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Well, Matt got home from Los Angeles last night and arrived under clear, starry skies. It was too dark for him to see the extra high water in the rivers and standing water in places where there shouldn't be water so he is skeptical about our ferocious rain and flooding. He keeps teasing me that we are all just a bunch of excitable sissies. But I will just show him this associated press article that I found on the internet this morning and he will have to believe me. Here are some excerpts about the places near to us (in red):
So it is still a bit messy here. There is no going north for at least another day. The freeway closure is from mile marker 68 to 88. Our exit is 63. We are really lucky we are not 5 miles north. When we were looking for land one of the main requirements was that it be as high and dry as possible. So we are fortunate that the only water we have to deal with is what falls from the sky, not what spills over from nearby rivers or dikes. On our property the standing pools of water are gradually seeping into the saturated ground. As far as we know the rest of the family made it through OK too. Ben is in Olympia and I don't think he has to worry about flooding in his place, Andy is in Bellingham and they got hit but not as hard as Lewis County apparently. Tom and Kathy are dry too. So, yeah! Today I will be looking around to see if I can find out what we can do to help the people who were affected by the floods. It's a crappy time of year to have your house under water.